DeVos, Van Andel talk about Amway at 50
No mid-life crisis for company
Updated: Friday, 22 May 2009, 7:47 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 22 May 2009, 5:25 PM EDT
ADA, Mich. (WOOD) – Though Amway is 50, it’s not in any mid-life crisis.
Founded in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, the Ada-based company now boasts 13,000 employees and 3 million distributors worldwide. Amway is now in 80 countries and territories, earning $8.2 billion last year.
The next generation has been running the company for a while, but the focus is on the future, not the past.
“We’ve all in the second generation figured out you can’t compete with the first generation, so we don’t even try,” Amway president Doug DeVos told 24 Hour News 8. “Throughout our lives, Dad and Jay have been our best cheerleaders there for all of us and all of us in the business…So what we do is work together to apply the principles to keep the business together, founded on the principles to do what you can to make the business better.”
Chairman Steve Van Andel said Amway started with “basically soap, detergent, products we still have today. But we’ve added cosmetics, nutrition, water filters and air filters because the market demanded us to shift. We had a different need. We’ll continue to look at those new things.”
Co-founder Rich DeVos agrees, but took a moment to reflect.
He said there “were hard days where we had to stand up for this business and fight for it, when other people accused us of wrongdoing or not running the business correctly. It was always questioning the whole concept of the business.”
The elder DeVos, now 83, said Amway “pioneered two things. We pioneered the marketing of traditional (personal) products, and then pioneered the whole multi-level marketing system. We proved this business. Mainly, we’ve proven it works for people who work for it.”
He thinks the business could “double or triple” in the future because the Amway business “door is open to anyone – the uneducated, the impoverished, people who don’t speak well. Our door is open.”
One of the goals, the co-founder said, “is to remain a family-owned and family-run business, if possible.”